Dereliction of Duty II

Dereliction of Duty II

RollingStone 

Dereliction of Duty II

“Senior ranking US military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the US Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable. This deception has damaged America’s credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan. It has likely cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars Congress might not otherwise have appropriated had it known the truth, and our senior leaders’ behavior has almost certainly extended the duration of this war. The single greatest penalty our Nation has suffered, however, has been that we have lost the blood, limbs and lives of tens of thousands of American Service Members with little to no gain to our country as a consequence of this deception.”

India Lifts Imports of Iran’s Oil

India Lifts Imports of Iran’s Oil

WSJ

By BENOÎT FAUCON

India increased its imports of Iran’s oil to become its largest customer last month, partly offsetting a cut in Chinese purchases, as sanctions failed to significantly dent Tehran’s sales, people in the oil industry said.

Iranian crude exports to India rose to 550,000 barrels a day in January, up 37.5% from December. That coincided with a 50% cut in exports to China, the result of a pricing dispute. Indian officials declined to comment.China now imports around 250,000 barrels a day from Iran.

Some analysts question, however, whether India can keep Iranian oil imports at such levels.

“I don’t think India is insulated at all” from sanctions, said Trevor Houser, a partner at New York-based economic-research firm Rhodium Group. “So the question is just how long Tehran is willing to sell on credit and how long Tehran can go without hard currency.”

Iran has been more flexible than other suppliers to India when it comes to payments, and accepted a delay on billion of dollars of arrears after sanctions disrupted payments last year.

Many Indian refineries are geared toward Iranian oil, making it more straightforward and cheaper to refine. There is no sign India is getting Iranian oil at a discount.

Despite a pledge to find alternatives, South Africa has also increased its Iranian oil imports to 100,000 barrels a day, a person familiar with the situation said. South African officials declined to comment.

Overall Iranian crude exports remained steady in January, preliminary data show.

Iranian crude shipments to the European Union eased slightly, as refiners prepare for an embargo on Iran. Iranian officials say the embargo won’t affect the country because they can find other buyers.

That comes despite rising financial pressure on Iran and on other nations to stop buying its oil. The U.S. has sanctioned Iran’s central bank and is working to cut the country off from the network of international financial transfers, the conduit for oil revenue, and pressured Asian and African nations to reduce their Iranian oil imports alongside the EU embargo.

But sanctions haven’t yet deterred India. Iran’s ambassador to India, Sayed Mehdi Nabizadeh, said on Tuesday that India had agreed to pay for some purchases of Iranian oil in Indian rupees, a route that would avoid the risk of an interruption in banking transfers. Officials in India’s oil and external ministries declined to comment on reports of a deal.

Final figures for shipments to Europe—which include the EU and Turkey—fell by 7% in January to 650,000 barrels a day, according to a person in the oil industry familiar with the matter. Earlier, preliminary numbers pointed to a steady 700,000 barrels a day last month.

But direct deliveries—outside the SuMed pipeline—to Greece fell by 25,000 barrels a day to 85,000 barrels a day, the person said.

—Devon Maylie in Johannesburg contributed to this article.

Write to Benoît Faucon at benoit.faucon@dowjones.com

India Plans To Profit from US/EU Sanctions On Iran

India sees business opportunity in Iran after US, EU sanctions

PTI

NEW DELHI: With the US and Europe imposing sanctions on Iran, India sees an opportunity to boost its trade with it by tapping the sectors which would be affected by the restrictions imposed by the West.

In this context, a large Indian business delegation will be visiting Iran by the month-end to explore business opportunities.

“We will be mounting a mission to Iran at the end of the month to promote our own exports. A huge delegation will be going,” Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters here today.

He did not elaborate but sources said huge business opportunities have opened up in Iran after the US and Europe recently imposed sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.

The delegation will include government officials and representatives from trade and industry.

India, which is heavily dependent on oil from Iran, maintains that it will implement only those sanctions which are imposed by the United Nations and not those imposed by individual nations or groupings.

“If Europe and the US want to stop export to Iran, why should I (India) follow the suit. Why shouldn’t we tap that opportunity,” a source said.

India believes that huge export opportunities are available in sectors like food that include tea, wheat and rice; pharmaceutical; iron and steel and infrastructure projects.

The sources said there are any number of items which can be exported by India to Iran, which has already been under sanctions for several years.

The sources made it clear that the sanctions imposed by the UN do not cover the export of a vast range of products which India can export.

Bilateral trade between India and Iran is around USD 13.6 billion, of which Indian export is merely USD 2.74 billion. The main item of trade is oil which accounts for 12 per cent of India’s total oil imports from Iran.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, during his visit to the US recently, underlined that India will not scale down its petroleum imports from Iran despite the sanctions by the US and Europe.

“It is not possible for India to take any decision to reduce the imports from Iran drastically, because among the countries which can provide the requirement of the emerging economies, Iran is an important country amongst them,” Mukherjee had said in response to a question.

Noting that India imports 110 million tonnes of crude per year, he had said, “We will not decrease imports from Iran. Iran is an important country for India despite US and European sanctions on Iran.”

CIA spy sentenced for stealing Russian rocket secrets

CIA spy sentenced for stealing Russian rocket secrets

Soyuz-5 rocket at vehicle assembly building of Plesetsk space center (RIA Novosti)

Soyuz-5 rocket at vehicle assembly building of Plesetsk space center (RIA Novosti)

 

A former chief test engineer of Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome, who was exposed as a CIA agent, has been sentenced to 13-year prison term. He admitted selling top secret data on Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles to the US.

Ex-Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Nesterets was found guilty of treason by a closed military court, the Russian Federal Security Service told the media Friday.

He was sentenced to a high security prison term. He was also stripped off his military rank.

In 2011 the FSB exposed 41 career agents of foreign intelligence services operating in Russia. It also established the identities of 158 people who had been doing business with the spies, according to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who was speaking at a meeting with FSB officials.

“The FSB’s counterintelligence work over the last year showed that foreign special services maintain high activity. They are doing their jobs,” the president commented.

Plesetsk Cosmodrome, located in Russia’s north, is a military rocket site, the very existence of which was not admitted until early 1980s. It is used both for space launches and test firing of strategic ballistic missiles for the Russian Defense Ministry.

World Bank Assessment Studies for Proposed Rogun Project in Tajikistan

Assessment Studies for Proposed Rogun Regional Water Reservoir and Hydropower Project in Tajikistan

World Bank GroupWorld Bank Group

In response to a request from the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, the World Bank is supporting the preparation of two studies on the proposed Rogun Regional Water Reservoir and Hydropower Project in Tajikistan (Rogun HPP) through a combined International Development Association (IDA) grant and credit. The two studies are:

  • Techno-Economic Assessment Study (TEAS); and
  • Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA).

These Assessment Studies will examine the potential benefits and risks of the proposed Rogun HPP and comprehensively evaluate its technical, economic, social, and environmental viability based on the current international standards and practices and in accordance with the Bank’s policies and procedures. They will provide the Government of Tajikistan, the World Bank, the other Central Asian countries and the international community with information about key elements associated with the proposed Rogun HPP.

The Assessment Studies, which could take approximately 18 months to complete from their commencement, have already benefited from extensive consultations on their Terms of Reference, which the World Bank facilitated in 2008-2009 with the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan.

Both Assessment Studies (TEAS and ESIA) have been contracted following International Competitive Bidding procedures, with close oversight by the World Bank. A consortium led by Coyne & Bellier will undertake the TEAS (contact signed on February 8, 2011) while Poyry of Switzerland will direct the ESIA (contract signed on March 25, 2011). Both firms have mobilized and will deliver inception reports in early May 2011. Inception reports are initial reports by the consultants that outline the work programs and study approaches for both Assessment Studies.

In supporting the Rogun Assessment Studies, as part of theCentral Asia Energy-Water Development Program, the World Bank has committed to an expanded role to ensure credible, transparent assessments that are open to international scrutiny and riparian dialogue. World Bank’s role includes the following steps:

  • Oversee Assessment Studies, including review of selection of consultants, attendance at contract negotiations, and review of all interim and draft reports.
  • Manage direct payments to the firms selected to undertake the Assessment Studies.
  • Undertake additional studies (to be funded by the World Bank or World Bank-managed Trust Funds), including studies of the energy supply and water management alternatives to the proposed Rogun Regional Water Reservoir and Hydropower Project that will be undertaken in parallel to the Assessment Studies.
  • Select and manage two independent Panels of Experts (to be funded by the World Bank or World Bank-managed Trust Funds) that will participate in the studies, providing objective advice, guidance and quality assurance.
  • Facilitate a structured process for riparian involvement, including information exchange and access to independent experts.

Additional studies that the World Bank will undertake in addition to IDA support for the Rogun Assessment Studies and independently of the Government of Tajikistan will focus on:

  • Assessment of options and alternatives to a proposed Rogun HPP which is a usual component to the project assessment. The World Bank will undertake this study to consider the range of options to meet energy security needs, water management services, and help harness the potential for energy exports in Tajikistan. The study will help the Government, the Bank and the international community to better understand the range of investment options for energy and water security at the least cost and highest development value.
  • Possible mechanisms to manage reservoir operations with transboundary impacts.
  • Hydrologic data and analysis which will further establish the credibility of the water analysis in the Assessment Studies.

The studies undertaken by the World Bank will be funded by the World Bank or World Bank-managed Trust Funds in parallel with the Assessment Studies on the proposed Rogun HPP.

At this time, the World Bank has reached an understanding with the Government of Tajikistan that no new construction would commence until after the techno-economic and environmental/social studies have been shared and discussed with riparians, and the studies are reviewed by the independent Bank-funded Panel of Experts to determine feasibility.

National Endowment for Democracy: Paying to Make Enemies of America

The misnamed National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is nothing more than a costly program that takes US taxpayer funds to promote favored politicians and political parties abroad. What the NED does in foreign countries, through its recipient organizations the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), would be rightly illegal in the United States. The NED injects “soft money” into the domestic elections of foreign countries in favor of one party or the other. Imagine what a couple of hundred thousand dollars will do to assist a politician or political party in a relatively poor country abroad. It is particularly Orwellian to call US manipulation of foreign elections “promoting democracy.” How would Americans feel if the Chinese arrived with millions of dollars to support certain candidates deemed friendly to China? Would this be viewed as a democratic development?

In an excellent study of the folly of the National Endowment for Democracy, Barbara Conry notes that:

“NED, which also has a history of corruption and financial mismanagement, is superfluous at best and often destructive. Through the endowment, the American taxpayer has paid for special-interest groups to harass the duly elected governments of friendly countries, interfere in foreign elections, and foster the corruption of democratic movements…

“…the controversy surrounding NED questions the wisdom of giving a quasi-private organization the fiat to pursue what is effectively an independent foreign policy under the guise of ‘promoting democracy.’ Proponents of NED maintain that a private organization is necessary to overcome the restraints that limit the activities of a government agency, yet they insist that the American taxpayer provide full funding for this initiative. NED’s detractors point to the inherent contradiction of a publicly funded organization that is charged with executing foreign policy (a power expressly given to the federal government in the Constitution) yet exempt from nearly all political and administrative controls…

“…In the final analysis, the endowment embodies the most negative aspects of both private aid and official foreign aid – the pitfalls of decentralized ‘loose cannon’ foreign policy efforts combined with the impression that the United States is trying to ‘run the show’ around the world.”

The National Endowment for Democracy is dependent on the US taxpayer for funding, but because NED is not a government agency, it is not subject to Congressional oversight. It is indeed a heavily subsidized foreign policy loose cannon.

Since its founding in 1983, the National Endowment for Democracy has been headed by Carl Gershman, a member of the neo-Trotskyite Social Democrats/USA.

Perhaps that is one reason much of what NED has done in the former Communist Bloc has ended up benefiting former communists in those countries. As British Helsinki Human Rights Group Director Christine Stone has written:

Both (IRI and NDI) are largely funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) … which, in turn, receive money from the American taxpayer. Both have favoured the return to power of former high-ranking Communists which has also meant co-opting foot-soldiers from the new left who have extremely liberal ideas…

Skender Gjinushi, speaker of the Albanian parliament, thanks the IRI for its assistance in drafting the Albanian constitution in 1998. What the IRI does not say is that Gjinushi was a member of the brutal Stalinist Politburo of Enver Hoxha’s Communist Party until 1990 and one of the main organizers of the unrest that led to the fall of the Democratic Party government in 1997 and the death of over 2000 people.

President Stoyanov of Bulgaria drools: “Without IRI’s support we could not have come so far so fast.” Indeed. Indeed. So far did they come that Ivan Kostov (who supplies another encomium to IRI) was catapulted from his job teaching Marxism-Leninism at Sofia University to being prime minister of Bulgaria and a leader of “reform.”

In Slovakia, NED funded several initiatives aimed at defeating the freely-elected government of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, who, interestingly, had been persecuted by the previous Communist regime. After the election, an IRI newsletter boasted that “IRI polls changed the nature of the campaign,” adding that IRI efforts secured “a victory for reformers in Slovakia.” What the IRI does not say is that many of these “reformers” had been leading members of the former Communist regime of then-Czechoslovakia. Is this democracy?

More recently, IRI president George A. Folsom last year praised a coup against Venezuela’s democratically-elected president, saying, “Last night, led by every sector of civil society, the Venezuelan people rose up to defend democracy in their country.” It was later revealed that the National Endowment for Democracy provided funds to those organizations that initiated the violent revolt in the streets against Venezuela’s legal leaders. More than a dozen civilians were killed and hundreds were injured in this attempted coup. Is this promoting democracy?

The National Endowment for Democracy, by meddling in the elections and internal politics of foreign countries, does more harm to the United States than good. It creates resentment and ill-will toward the United States among millions abroad. It is beyond time to de-fund this Cold War relic and return to the foreign policy of our founders, based on open relations and trade with all countries and free from meddling and manipulation in the internal affairs of others.

Ron Paul is a Republican Congressman from Texas. He was the 1988 Libertarian Party candidate for President.

Are Freedom House And The National Democratic Institute Really “Our Innocents Abroad”?

Are Freedom House And The National Democratic Institute Really “Our Innocents Abroad”?

Friday’s lead stories in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal dealt with what both viewed as a national affront and outrage.

Egyptian soldiers, said the Post, “stormed the offices” of three U.S. “democracy-building organizations … in a dramatic escalation of a crackdown by the military-led government that could imperil its relations with the United States.”

The organizations: Freedom House, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute.

Cairo contends that $65 million in “pro-democracy” funding that IRI, NDI and Freedom House received for use in Egypt constitutes “illegal foreign funding” to influence their elections.

“A Provocation in Egypt,” raged the Post.

An incensed Freedom House President David Kramer said the raids reveal that Egypt’s military has ”no intention of permitting the establishment of genuine democracy.”

Leon Panetta phoned the head of the military regime. With $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid on the line, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi backed down. The raids will stop.

Yet this is not the first time U.S. “pro-democracy” groups have been charged with subverting regimes that fail to toe the Washington line.

In December, Vladimir Putin claimed that hundreds of millions of dollars, mostly from U.S. sources, was funneled into his country to influence the recent election, and that Hillary Clinton’s denunciation of the results was a signal for anti-Putin demonstrators to take to Moscow’s streets.

In December also, a top Chinese official charged U.S. Consul General Stephen Young in Hong Kong with trying to spread disorder. “Wherever (Young) goes, there is trouble and so-called color revolutions,” said the pro-Communist Party Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po.

Beijing, added the Post, has been “jittery following this year’s Arab Spring and calls on the Internet for the Chinese to follow suit with a ‘jasmine revolution.'” The Jasmine Revolution was the uprising that forced Tunisia’s dictator to flee at the outset of the Arab Spring.

Yet one need not be an acolyte of the Egyptian, Chinese or Russian regimes to wonder if, perhaps, based on history, they do not have a point.

Does the United States interfere in the internal affairs of nations to subvert regimes by using NGOs to funnel cash to the opposition to foment uprisings or affect elections? Are we using Cold War methods on countries with which we are not at war—to advance our New World Order?

So it would seem. For, repeatedly, Freedom House, IRI and NDI have been identified as instigators of color-coded revolutions to replace autocrats with pro-American “democrats.”

Ukraine’s Orange Revolution was marked by mass demonstrations in Kiev to overturn the election of a pro-Russian leader and bring about his replacement by a pro-Western politician who sought to move his country into NATO. The Orange Revolution first succeeded, but then failed.

A U.S.-engineered Rose Revolution in 2002 overthrew President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia and brought about his replacement by Mikheil Saakashvili, who then invaded South Ossetia, to be expelled by the Russian Army.

Following the assassination of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a Cedar Revolution, featuring massive demonstrations in Beirut against Syria, effected the withdrawal of its occupation army from Lebanon.

In Belarus, however, marches on parliament failed to overturn an election that returned Alexander Lukashenko to power.

The Tulip Revolution brought about the overthrow of President Askar Akayev in Kyrgyzstan. But that, too, did not turn out as well as we hoped.

When one considers the long record of U.S. intervention in nations far from our borders, that an ex-chairman of Freedom House is the former CIA Director James Woolsey, that the longtime chairman of IRI is the compulsive interventionist John McCain, who has been trading insults with Putin, and that Kenneth Wollack, president of NDI, was once director of legislative affairs for the Israeli lobby AIPAC, it is hard to believe we are clean as a hound’s tooth of the charges being leveled against us, no matter how suspect the source.

One recalls that, in 1960, when the United States said a weather plane had strayed off course, and Nikita Khrushchev said it was a U.S. spy plane they had shot down, the Butcher of Budapest turned out to be telling the truth.

Instead, why is the U.S. government funding Freedom House, IRI and IDI, if not to bring about change in countries whose institutions or policies do not conform to our own?

As Leon Trotsky believed in advancing world communist revolution, neocons and democratists believe we have some inherent right to intervene in nations that fail to share our views and values.

But where did we acquire this right?

And if we are intervening in Egypt to bring about the defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, and the Islamists win as they are winning today, what do we expect the blowback to be? Would we want foreigners funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into our election of 2012?

How would Andrew Jackson have reacted if he caught British agents doing here what we do all over the world?

Patrick J. Buchanan needs no introduction to VDARE.COM readers; his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from Amazon.com. His new book – Suicide Of A Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?? was released in October 2011. His previous  book,  Churchill, Hitler, and “The Unnecessary War”: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World,  was reviewed here by Paul Craig Roberts.